Thursday, January 14, 2016


Like my last recommendation (Ordinary Grace), my “I Like It” pick for today is another “coming of age” novel. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker is a book which will leave you thinking and pondering, wondering and speculating.

What happens when the very fabric of our existence goes haywire? What happens when the very planet we live on betrays us? That’s the theme of The Age of Miracles, which has been called a YA speculative story. But I’m not sure that is a correct description. I believe it is a story everyone can read and enjoy, and the speculative part? That's just the setting.

Ordinary Grace is about a boy and a summer in the early 1960s and a death and the mystery surrounding it. The Age of Miracles is about an 11 year old girl who happens to be living in a very strange, but contemporary time. The earth is slowing on its axis. It’s this hook that draws you in immediately, and yet this setting is really only secondary.

The story is told through the eyes of eleven year old Julia. Her parents are having their problems, the best friend she’s had forever is cool and distant, and there is a boy—there always is a boy—who she has a crush on. All of these normal, growing-up events would be challenges enough, but add to that, the slowing of the very planet on its axis, and you have a haunting and compelling novel.

I love first lines of books. It’s the first paragraphs that draw me in as a reader. Consider these opening lines:

We didn’t notice right away. We couldn’t feel it. We did not sense at first the extra time, bulging from the smooth edge of each day like a tumor blooming beneath skin.

We were distracted back then by weather and war. We had no interest in the turning of the earth. Bombs continued to explode on the streets on distant countries. Hurricanes came and went. Summer ended. A new school year began. The clocks ticked as usual. Seconds beaded into minutes. Minutes grew into hours. And there was nothing to suggest that those hours, too, weren't still pooling into days, each the same fixed length known to every human being.

As the planet’s slowing becomes more noticeable, politics gets involved. Should civilization live by the clock, or live by their own light/dark body rhythms? It becomes a hotly debated political issue and roundly debated on talk shows. (Sound familiar?) As life becomes more and more disrupted and the stretches of daylight and darkness stretch to thirty hours or more, the very food supply is affected. Health, is of course, impacted, and many new diseases spring up. The “naturalists” who want to live by their body rhythms end up moving away from the mainstream of society which still “lives by the clock." I love the name of the camp - Circadia.

But what happens when you're living through this and you're just a kid? It is really Julia’s story that we are reading. No spoilers here, but her relationship with her boyfriend goes through some very real trauma as the book unfolds.

The comparison to our own climate change—which some still deny—is unmistakable, yet don’t confuse this book with a story that might “have an agenda,” or seek to “make a statement.” Like any good writer, I think the author set out simply to write a good story. 

Yet, I couldn’t help but see comparisons. As I read through this haunting, compelling book, I wondered - could this ever really happen? Well. Maybe. Here’s an interesting CBC article about that very thing. Click here.

Our Canadian north seems to be the barometer for the entire planet. Click here to read about the changes our own Inuit elders have seen. People are finally believing them, it seems. It's about time.

I’m not one of these "elders" who lives and hunts and exists by the seasons, but I’m old enough to remember iceskating every winter on the canals in New Jersey where I grew up. These canals have not frozen over for many years.

I find all of this science quite fascinating - here’s another article for your reading pleasure.

And another.

Couldn’t happen here? Maybe not the kind of dramatic slowing that is evident in The Age of Miracles, but maybe something else?  Or maybe when climate change reaches some kind of tipping point, it will happen with growing speed. Personally? We are humans. We are smart. We are creative. I would love to see us quit fighting and set about trying to manage to live within the new parameters of our planet. 

In the meantime, pick up The Age of Miracles, or download it onto your ereader. I guarantee you will not be able to put it down until you have read to the end.

NEXT TIME: Faith Shift by Kathy Escobar.


  1. I've read this book. Great review Linda! Thanks. :)

  2. Thanks Katie! It's quite something to think about.